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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Simulation-based statistical testing in journalism

Jonathan Stray writes: In my recent Algorithms in Journalism course we looked at a post which makes a cute little significance-type argument that five Trump campaign payments were actually the $130,000 Daniels payoff. They summed to within a dollar of $130,000, so the simulation recreates sets of payments using bootstrapping and asks how often there’s […]

Global warming? Blame the Democrats.

An anonymous blog commenter sends the above graph and writes: I was looking at the global temperature record and noticed an odd correlation the other day. Basically, I calculated the temperature trend for each presidency and multiplied by the number of years to get a “total temperature change”. If there was more than one president […]

If you want to measure differences between groups, measure differences between groups.

Les Carter points to the article, Coming apart? Cultural distances in the United States over time, by Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica, which states: There is a perception that cultural distances are growing, with a particular emphasis on increasing political polarization. . . . Carter writes: I am troubled by the inferences in the paper. […]

No, I don’t buy that claim that Fox news is shifting the vote by 6 percentage points

Tyler Cowen writes: This is only one estimate, from Gregory J. Martin and Ali Yurukoglu, but nonetheless it is backed by a plausible identification stragegy and this is very interesting research: We find that in a hypothetical world without Fox News but with no other changes, the Republican vote share in the 2000 election would […]

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water . . . SHARK ATTACKS in the Journal of Politics

We’ve been here before. Back in 2002, political scientists Chris Achen and Larry Bartels presented a paper “Blind Retrospection – Electoral Responses to Drought, Flu and Shark Attacks.” Here’s a 2012 version in which the authors trace “the electoral impact of a clearly random event—a dramatic series of shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916” […]

Moneyball for evaluating community colleges

From an interesting statistics-laden piece by “Dean Dad”: Far more community college students transfer prior to completing the Associate’s degree than actually complete first. According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, about 350,000 transfer before completion, compared to about 60,000 who complete first. That matters in several ways. Most basically, […]

Does Harvard discriminate against Asian Americans in college admissions?

Sharad Goel, Daniel Ho and I looked into the question, in response to a recent lawsuit. We wrote something for the Boston Review: What Statistics Can’t Tell Us in the Fight over Affirmative Action at Harvard Asian Americans and Academics “Distinguishing Excellences” Adjusting and Over-Adjusting for Differences The Evolving Meaning of Merit Character and Bias […]

MRP (multilevel regression and poststratification; Mister P): Clearing up misunderstandings about

Someone pointed me to this thread where I noticed some issues I’d like to clear up: David Shor: “MRP itself is like, a 2009-era methodology.” Nope. The first paper on MRP was from 1997. And, even then, the component pieces were not new: we were just basically combining two existing ideas from survey sampling: regression […]

Comparing racism from different eras: If only Tucker Carlson had been around in the 1950s he could’ve been a New York Intellectual.

TV commentator Carlson in 2018 recently raised a stir by saying that immigration makes the United States “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided,” which reminded me of this rant from literary critic Alfred Kazin in 1957: Kazin put it in his diary and Carlson broadcast it on TV, so not quite the same thing. But […]

Time series of Democratic/Republican vote share in House elections

Yair prepared this graph of average district vote (imputing open seats at 75%/25%; see here for further discussion of this issue) for each House election year since 1976: Decades of Democratic dominance persisted through 1992; since then the two parties have been about even. As has been widely reported, a mixture of geographic factors and […]

“Statistical insights into public opinion and politics” (my talk for the Columbia Data Science Society this Wed 9pm)

7pm in Fayerweather 310: Why is it more rational to vote than to answer surveys (but it used to be the other way around)? How does this explain why we should stop overreacting to swings in the polls? How does modern polling work? What are the factors that predict election outcomes? What’s good and bad […]

$ vs. votes

Carlos Cruz writes: Here’s an economics joke. Two economists are walking along when they happen to end up in front of a Tesla showroom. One economist points to a shiny new car and says, “I want that!” The other economist replies, “You’re lying.” The premise of this joke is that if the one economist had […]

“She also observed that results from smaller studies conducted by NGOs – often pilot studies – would often look promising. But when governments tried to implement scaled-up versions of those programs, their performance would drop considerably.”

Robert Wiblin writes: If we have a study on the impact of a social program in a particular place and time, how confident can we be that we’ll get a similar result if we study the same program again somewhere else? Dr Eva Vivalt . . . compiled a huge database of impact evaluations in […]

A Bayesian take on ballot order effects

Dale Lehman sends along a paper, “The ballot order effect is huge: Evidence from Texas,” by Darren Grant, which begins: Texas primary and runoff elections provide an ideal test of the ballot order hypothesis, because ballot order is randomized within each county and there are many counties and contests to analyze. Doing so for all […]

2018: How did people actually vote? (The real story, not the exit polls.)

Following up on the post that we linked to last week, here’s Yair’s analysis, using Mister P, of how everyone voted. Like Yair, I think these results are much better than what you’ll see from exit polls, partly because the analysis is more sophisticated (MRP gives you state-by-state estimates in each demographic group), partly because […]

“Law professor Alan Dershowitz’s new book claims that political differences have lately been criminalized in the United States. He has it wrong. Instead, the orderly enforcement of the law has, ludicrously, been framed as political.”

This op-ed by Virginia Heffernan is about g=politics, but it reminded me of the politics of science. Heffernan starts with the background: This last year has been a crash course in startlingly brutal abuses of power. For decades, it seems, a caste of self-styled overmen has felt liberated to commit misdeeds with impunity: ethical, sexual, […]

Hey! Here’s what to do when you have two or more surveys on the same population!

This problem comes up a lot: We have multiple surveys of the same population and we want a single inference. The usual approach, applied carefully by news organizations such as Real Clear Politics and Five Thirty Eight, and applied sloppily by various attention-seeking pundits every two or four years, is “poll aggregation”: you take the […]

2018: Who actually voted? (The real story, not the exit polls.)

Continuing from our earlier discussion . . . Yair posted some results from his MRP analysis of voter turnout: 1. The 2018 electorate was younger than in 2014, though not as young as exit polls suggest. 2. The 2018 electorate was also more diverse, with African American and Latinx communities surpassing their share of votes […]

2018: What really happened?

We’re always discussing election results on three levels: their direct political consequences, their implications for future politics, and what we can infer about public opinion. In 2018 the Democrats broadened their geographic base, as we can see in this graph from Yair Ghitza: Party balancing At the national level, what happened is what we expected […]

Why it can be rational to vote

Just a reminder.